On-campus or off-campus housing? Students weigh the costs between the two

Summer has just begun, but enjoying the warm weather isn’t the only thing on students’ minds. Many students are planning for next semester’s expenses, and campus-housing rates of nearly $1,000 per month are causing previous dorm residents to move off campus in the fall.

Although Oakland University students are encouraged to live in university housing for the campus connections they offer, many cannot afford the current rates on top of tuition.

OU’s housing prices for last year’s combined fall and winter semesters were $7,968, or $996 a month per person for a double room. Single rooms ran at a higher rate of $1,082 a month per person.

Kate Mudloff, community manager of Auburn Hills Apartments, said that she has seen a recent spike in students looking to rent at the Auburn Hills complex, which is located less than five minutes from campus.

“There has definitely been an increase in students,” Mudloff said. “We’ve already had students coming in saying they’re starting at the new medical school this fall. Those students are a big reason of why we’re full now.”

Mudloff explained that many OU students who lease at Auburn Hills Apartments have previously lived on campus.

“People live in the dorms and they realize how expensive it is,” Mudloff said.

According to Mudloff, the current rate for a two-bedroom apartment at Auburn Hills Apartments is $720 per month, which includes all utilities except electric. At $360 a month per person, that is less than half of the on-campus housing rate.

“We’ve sat down with students and gone over the exact cost of the dorms,” Mudloff said. “It’s always been more cost-effective here, even with phone, cable and internet.”

Shannon Getchen, a junior majoring in  integrated studies, moved into Auburn Hills Apartments her sophomore year after living in Hamlin Hall as a freshmen.

“I had a friend who lived here  and she raved about it,” Getchen said. “It was cheaper than the dorms and way less stressful.”

Getchen also recently started working as a secretary at the Auburn Hills Apartment office.

“It’s been a great opportunity to work at a place I love to live in,” Getchen said. “I can’t imagine a more cost-effective place to live … I definitely plan to live here until I graduate.”

Other nearby apartment complexes, such as Beacon Hill Apartments on Walton Boulevard and Auburn Ridge Apartments on Dexter, have similar rates of less than $500 a month per person.

Despite the growing number of students, such as Getchen, who are leaving on-campus housing in favor of cheaper apartments, housing costs at OU continue to increase.

According to Director of University Housing Jim Zentmeyer, the current on-campus housing rate may even increase for the upcoming fall semester.

“We will be proposing a three percent recommended increase to the board of trustees on June 11,” Zentmeyer said.

When asked why the cost of living in OU’s dorms were at their current rates, Zentmeyer explained that there are many factors that impact the cost of housing.

“Staffing is a big component of the cost,” Zentmeyer said. “Having Resident Assistants on every floor, night watch security, peer mentors … we have staff that oversees a lot of issues.”

Zentmeyer also explained that regular maintenance and upgrades for housing facilities are significant components of the price.

“The bulk of housing was built in 1967, so that takes some money,” Zentmeyer said. “Obviously, utilities are also not cheap, but they’re not cheap anywhere.”

Despite the cost, Zentmeyer encourages students to live on campus.

“The big thing with on-campus housing is that we offer something different than what’s off campus,” Zentmeyer said. “The students that do live on campus become invested here. They find outlets like The (Oakland) Post and the Resident’s Hall Association.”

Getchen agrees that living on campus was a great experience for her first year.

“Looking back, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I met a lot of new people,” Getchen said. “I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

According to Mudloff, any students who are thinking about renting at a nearby apartment complex should look into doing so as soon as possible.

“We’re already filling up for the fall,” Mudloff said. “Students who want to rent anywhere need to start looking now.”


Contact Staff Reporter Jennifer Holychuk via email [email protected] at or follow her on Twitter @jholychuk